Elaine Bradford: “Museum of Unnatural History”

Local crocheting taxidermy artist creates new tails and tales for her latest exhibit

Elaine Bradford starts an evolution with her exhibit “Museum of Unnatural History.” Bradford has made a name for herself around town by giving taxidermy the crochet treatment. In the past, Bradford has created made-to-shape sweaters for deer and other species, but for this show she’s creating a whole new class of characters. Two goats are fused together at the waist so there’s a head at each end. A cougar is given extra-long, spider-like legs. Another wild cat is given a caterpillar-length torso, and a rabbit gets its own antler — all made from colorful yarn.

But Bradford didn’t stop there.

“I’m basically building a natural history museum to house taxidermy pieces,” she says. “This is definitely the largest thing I have done and most elaborate.” Bradford also had J.D. Ho, a Michener Fellowship in Writing at the University of Texas in Austin, create species names and descriptions of each animal. For example, the caterpillar cat is Longcat (Lynx metamorpha), and the double goat is Pushmi-pullyu (Tragus januali). There are two raccoons — known in the Unnatural Museum as Pair-bears (Procyon besheret) — connected by a long tail.

“In her text, [Ho] explains the Pair-bear spends their entire life wandering the forest looking for their mate that has the exact same striping as they do,” Bradford says. “When they find them, they burrow themselves in a hole in the forest and then emerge ten days later and their tails have been fused together.” The exhibit also features photographs of the animals in the park and forest.

The show opens Friday, January 9, with a reception and artist’s talk from 6 to 8 p.m. Regular viewing hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Through February 20. Docent tours of the show will be given at 2 p.m. today and Saturday, February 7. Art League of Houston, 1953 Montrose. For information, call 713-523-9530 or visit www.artleaguehouston.org. Free.
Mondays-Saturdays. Starts: Jan. 9. Continues through Feb. 20, 2009

 
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